The ancient Chinese practice of Qigong uses movement to aid the prevention of illness – how interesting is that?! We spoke to Judy, instructor of the free Health Qigong program at Fed Square, to learn more about the origins and the physical and mental benefits of this unique form of exercise.
What is Health Qigong? What are its origins and benefits?
Qigong is a Chinese cultural treasure with a history dating back some 5000 years. It is an integral component of the Chinese health system that combines integrated physical movement, mental cultivation and regulated breathing.
Modern Health Qigong exercises have been created by professors from the Chinese Health Qigong Association. The exercises are based on the literature, paintings and decorations found on ancient scrolls and pottery; they are designed to guide and induce the free flow of Qi energy throughout the body, maintaining the harmony of Yin and Yang. The body movements are aligned with breath control and mind adjustment, improving general health, to aid disease prevention, and to promote a greater sense of well-being.
What is the difference between Tai Chi and Qigong?
Both Tai Chi and Qigong cultivate the Qi and promote energy flow, but one is focused on martial applications and the other focuses on prevention of illness and disease.
Health Qigong is exercise that is designed to improve health and prevent disease. When practiced regularly it promotes general fitness and well-being. Because it focuses on breathing and mind control it can produce excellent results in stress relief. Health Qigong is widely used in conjunction with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat diseases.
Tai Chi on the other hand, is exercise for fitness, based on the Chinese martial arts, or Wushu. Tai Chi is widely practiced in China and throughout the world and has many styles and forms.
What can someone expect from a typical class?
Beginner students will be led through gentle warmup exercises, including breathing exercises, before being introduced to specific forms. They are gradually introduced to a basic set of Health Qigong exercises that emphasise body and mind control through coordinated breathing and movement. We will also discuss the benefits of Health Qigong, and we encourage questions so that attendees can gain an understanding of the benefits specific to them. It is important that students take the time to savour the benefits that flow from the class so they leave with an enhanced sense of well-being.
Do you have any tips for someone trying Qigong for the first time?
Firstly, one simple practical tip is to be dressed appropriately – make sure that you wear comfortable loose clothing and flat shoes.
Secondly, come with an open mind and be prepared for a relaxing but sometimes a challenging session!
We want students to enjoy the experience and leave with a sense of calm and well-being, to really get the most out of it. It can take some time to ‘understand’ Health Qigong, and we encourage beginners to enjoy the class and not take it too seriously. We have an accepting and encouraging environment, so don’t feel intimidated!
How long have you been practicing Health Qigong, and what is your favourite aspect of it?
I was introduced to Health Qigong in 2008, and since then I have practised and learned more about how it works on the body, particularly the benefits and effects from the different forms. I have been most fortunate in training with and learning from the best professors and masters both in China and Melbourne.
Qigong can be practised anywhere and does not require a large space. It helps to keep me fit, aids balance and flexibility, and also keeps my brain active. I particularly enjoy the sense of calm that I get from practising, either by myself or working with a group.
Fridays | 8am – 9am | The Square (or inside The Atrium in the case of inclement weather)